The Oscar Project
This is probably one of the categories that I have the least insight on so far this Oscar season. As of this writing I have only seen two of the three films, but hoping to catch Elvis and Banshees this weekend as both are available on HBOMax.
Looking into some background on this category for this post, I learned that there was a 33-year period from 1981 to 2013 where every Best Picture winner was also nominated for the Best Film Editing category, with about a third of them winning the Editing prize as well. This year the category is filled with first time nominees, with only one receiving their second nomination.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen is now a two-time Oscar nominee in the Best Film Editing category, after winning the aware on his first nomination two years ago for Sound of Metal. Nielsen is only on his fifth feature as film editor and first with Banshees director Martin McDonagh.
From what I’ve seen of this film, I can tell why it was nominated for this category. Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond and receive their first nomination for editing and some of the fast-paced cuts are something else. Timing those cuts to many of Elvis’s best loved songs was surely no small feat and both Villa and Redmond worked with director Baz Luhrmann on The Great Gatsby.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
I can attest to the tremendous editing of this film firsthand. There are some amazingly fast sequences cut together within a single universe, but even more impressive are the sequences cut together with multiple perspectives in play on screen at the same time. I also have to mention the restraint during sequences like the conversation between Evelyn and Joy in the rock universe, allowing the scene to play out with just the “conversation” telling the story. I would love to see editor Paul Rogers take home the Oscar for Best Film Editing.
Perhaps the longest working name on this list is Monika Willi with editing credits going back to 1997. This is her first recognition by the Academy though she previously worked on the Academy Award nominated film The White Ribbon.
Top Gun: Maverick
If anyone on the list has made a name for editing fast-paced action flicks, it’s Eddie Hamilton. He has worked on the two most recent Mission Impossible films as well as Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. He also edited for Guy Ritchie’s film Swept Away. Even with that vast body of work, this is his first nomination from the Academy and I think another strong front runner to receive the award with all of the quick cutting aerial battles in this film.
This is one of the newer awards at the Oscars, having only been given out since 1981. Like the costume category I covered yesterday, there are typically two types of films that get recognized in this category. The first is anything in science fiction or fantasy, including comic book adaptations. Films like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Men in Black, or Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring come to mind here.
The other main category is period pieces and/or films about famous individuals from the past. Braveheart ticks both of those boxes, and more recently we have seen wins from films like The Darkest Hour, Vice, and Bombshell. The key for these films is using the makeup to transform a usually well known actor or actress, and make them unrecognizable as themselves while they inhabit the role of the famous historical (or contemporary) figure
All Quiet on the Western Front
This is the first nomination for Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerová. Looking at this through the lens of films like 1917 and Saving Private Ryan, both of those films received nominations in this category, but did not take home the award. That said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for this to win, as we have seen war films recognized with a win here in the past, including Braveheart, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (yes, I would consider it a war film set in a fantasy world), and The Darkest Hour, though the last one was nominated less for the war injury makeup and more for helping Gary Oldman disappear into the role of Winston Churchill.
Like I said with my discussion of this film in relation to visual effects last week, you almost don’t notice the makeup here, and that is part of what makes it work. That said, there are plenty of instances in the film where characters are made up with ash, dirt, and blood on their faces and bodies, and that work is very well done.
This nomination is almost entirely a result of the incredible job the makeup artists did transforming Colin Farrell into The Penguin for this film. This if the third nomination for Naomi Donne (1917 and Cruella), second for Mike Marino (Coming 2 America) and first for Mike Fontaine, but their work on Farrell is astounding. If you haven’t seen the movie and look at the image below, you’d be hard pressed to find Farrell anywhere in that picture. But of course, there was more than just Penguin’s look that went into the makeup for the film. We were introduced to Robert Pattinson’s wild hair and heavy eyeshadowed look after he takes off his cowl and suit. There is also Zoë Kravitz’s feline look for portraying Seline Kyle. Ultimately though, if this film wins, it will be for the work on the Penguin face.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
This film doesn’t necessarily have the initial expectation of appearing in this category, but more than most of Marvel’s other films, there is a variety of hair and makeup work here that truly makes it worth of recognition. Camille Friend receives her first Oscar nomination while Joel Harlow receives his fourth (a win for Star Trek, nominations for The Lone Ranger, and Star Trek Beyond) and they had their work cut out for them creating unique styles for the various cultures in the film. The hair and makeup of Wakanda had been established in the first film back in 2018, but this film also saw the introduction of the culture of Talokan which is deeply influenced by Mesoamerican cultures. Not only do we get to see the cultural influences in these characters, but they are also blue skinned, something that has to be matched just right for every scene by what I’m sure was a large team of makeup artists.
Within the world of Wakanda, we get to see a variety of hairstyles, from Shuri’s (Leticia Wright) afro mohawk, to Nakia’s (Lupita Nyong’o) long braids. Makeup becomes even more important for Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the other members of the Dora Milaje to ensure that their strength is on display with the patterns on their heads. All said, there is a strong case to be made for this film winning the award, especially with focus on both makeup AND hair.
The team of makeup and hairstylists for this film had one of the bigger challenges this year, turning Austin Butler into one of the most famous musicians, if not people, of the 20th century. Mark Coulier and Aldo Signoretti both receive their fourth nominations for this film with Coulier winning for The Iron Lady and The Grand Budapest Hotel, while their co-nominee Jason Baird receives his first nomination. The team had to re-create not only a famous face and age that look over the period covered in the film, but also re-create Elvis’s famous hairstyle, something that has been done thousands, if not millions of times by impersonators around the world. Of course, Elvis himself is not the only famous person in the film. Tom Hanks had to wear plenty of prosthetics to portray Colonel Tom Parker, and Olivia DeJonge stuns as Priscilla Presley, often with hair just as big as her husband. I definitely see this film having strong potential to win this category, and might end up on a run with multiple nominations intechnical categories in addition to Butler’s Best Actor nomination and the Best Picture nod.
Let's face it, like The Batman, this film is nominated primarily due to the work done on Brendan Fraser to make him into the reclusive college professor Charlie. First time nominees Judy Chin and Anne Marie Bradley join second time nominee Adrien Morot (Barney’s Version) in the nomination for this film and based on some recent history, there is a decent chance they all receive their first Oscar win this year.
Goldderby.com released an article last week on the trend of makeup and hairstyling teams winning their award when nominated with the actors or actresses they made up for the film. The only other film with an actor or actress nominated is Elvis, and while there is a chance for Butler to win, everything is pointing to Fraser taking home the Oscar this year. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues following last year’s win in this category for The Eyes of Tammy Faye which also saw Jessica Chastain win the Best Actress award.
Last week, I wrote up some information on two categories of nominees, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. This week, I have several more posts lined up, starting today with the Best Costume Design nominees. Unlike the categories last week, Best Costume Design only lists one person on each nomination.
This category, along with the nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling which I plan to cover tomorrow, help create the visual style of the characters in a film. You usually find two types of films in the Best Costume Design category, science fiction/fantasy blockbusters and period pieces and this year is no exception to that rule.
Mary Zophres gets the nominations started in this category. It is her fourth nomination after being previously recognized for True Grit, La La Land, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Throughout Zophres’s career she has worked extensively with the Coen brothers, costuming all of their films since 1996’s Fargo. She has also worked on several Steve Spielberg films, a few films by the Farrelly brothers, and now three films with Damien Chazelle.
This film was the largest challenge of her career to date, with over 7000 total costumes appearing on screen throughout the film. The L.A. Times had a wonderful article earlier this month titled “Elephant poop, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt: Dressing the ‘Babylon’ cast has ups and downs” showcasing a number of the looks featured in the film, along with some stories behind their creation. This could very well be Zophres’s time to finally win her first Oscar.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Ruth Carter made history several years ago when she became the first African-American to with the Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on Black Panther. She is back in the category again this year for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, after previously receiving nominations for the Spike Lee film Malcolm X and Steve Spielberg’s Amistad. Carter has collaborated with Lee on a total of 12 films and has clothed such acting greats as Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, and one of this year’s Best Supporting Actress nominees, Angela Bassett.
I actually know the most about her work as I am in the process of reading a preview copy of a new book coming out in May titled The Art of Ruth E. Carter. I’m just about finished with it, and it is a fascinating look into the world of a costume designer including the process she goes through to work with the director and actors on a shoot, bringing in little pieces of the characters from all involved. EW also published a wonderful article last month on Carter’s work on Wakanda Forever. Be on the look out for my review of Carter’s book coming soon and look for Carter to potentially land her second Oscar win this year.
Catherine Martin is one of two nominees in this category who has won previously. Both times Martin has won an Oscar for Best Costume Design (Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby) she has also paired it with Best Production Design wins. This year, she is again nominated in both Best Costume Design and Best Production Design and shares a producing credit on the film with her husband and the film’s director, Baz Luhrmann which gets her included in the Best Picture nomination. She has been the costume designer for all of Luhrmann’s films since Moulin Rouge!, including a number of short films he directed in 2012.
Again, I feel it’s appropriate to reference an article from Vogue titled "How Catherine Martin Crafted Elvis’s Dazzling, Vegas-Worthy Wardrobe". The article showcases a number of the costume choices in this film and shows that even re-creating some of the most iconic styles from the King of Rock isn’t always a walk in the park.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Shirley Kurata is a first-time nominee in this category, but it feels like much of the emphasis for this nomination comes from the costumes for just one character, Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu). The looks for this character alone could easily land Kurata the nomination, but add to that the fact that the film was made on a very limited budget and you have a story that showcases a true rising star. An article titled "How Costume Designer Shirley Kurata Outfitted the Multiverse" from The Wrap explains the approach Kurata took to working on this film.
In addition to the amazing costumes for Tupaki, there are also plenty of challenges in place for a film that gives glimpses into alternate universes where the characters play completely different roles in the world. With that comes a completely new set of costumes depending on which universe they inhabit at any given time. Look out for a possible win here, giving Kurata her first win on her first nomination.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Our last nominee, Jenny Beavan, was a bit of a surprise to me on nomination day last week, but having seen the film, I was pleasantly surprised that she was recognized. This is Beavan’s 12th nomination for Best Costume Design and she has won the award three times before for her work on A Room with a View, Mad Max: Fury Road, and just last year on Cruella. It would be hard to find three more different films to win this award for, but between them they check off all the typical types of films you see in this category.
This film in particular was interesting in that the whole focus of the story is on a Dior dress and the film doesn’t work if those dresses shown on screen aren’t wonderfully designed. Focus Features has a wonderful interview with Beavan titled "From Dowdy To Dior: Creating The Costumes For Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" that posted last summer going into more detail on how the looks for the film were created, including the dresses that were re-made based on actual Dior pieces from the time period of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beavan win this award as a dark horse, but worry that the reliance on pre-existing dresses might downgrade the work ever so slightly.
Today I’m looking at the films nominated in the Best Sound category. This is a combination of what used to be two categories, Best Sound Design (the selection of sounds that go into the film from various sources) and Best Sound Editing (the mixing and balancing of those sounds to ensure they feel natural as part of the film). There is a great article from last month on the Antares Tech website titled What’s the Difference Between Sound Design and Sound Editing? that I urge everyone to check out to help understand this difference.
That said, as of two years ago, the category was combined into one that covers both the sound design and sound editing aspects of film. The list of nominees is nearly the same as what I covered yesterday for Best Visual Effects.
All Quiet on the Western Front
There are five names nominated for this film, Viktor Prášil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel, and Stefan Korte, and all of them are first time nominees. As with yesterday’s post, I have to compare this film to past war epics Saving Private Ryan and 1917. Both films won their year, with Private Ryan taking home both the Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing categories. 1917 only won for Best Sound Mixing, but was also nominated for Best Sound Editing. Interestingly, Stuart Wilson was one of the winners for that award, and he is nominated again this year for The Batman below.
Regarding the film itself, I think the sound is one of the most important elements in this film, as with many war films. There is such a range of sound in a good war film, from the explosions and small arms fire of the battlefield to the crackling of a fire on a cold night behind the line as soldiers prepare for battle. I never expressly noticed the sound design in this film, which tells me that it did the job perfectly. The loud portions were appropriately loud, and the softer moments were quiet enough to allow the viewer (and the characters) a moment to ponder everything else going on around them.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Unfortunately, I still haven’t had a chance to see this film, which puts me at a disadvantage for comparing it to the other four in the category. Based on the names attached to the nomination for this film (Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, and Michael Hedges) I have to give it a strong chance to take home the prize here. Howarth and Bernstein are first time nominees, but the other four all have at least one win under their belt, with the exception of Whittle. Several of those wins came from previous Cameron projects including Titanic and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
If this film is anything close to the original in terms of sound, there is plenty of balancing between the natural world of the Na’vi and the technological world of the humans. Add in the complexity of sound under water, and I’m sure this group had plenty of challenges to overcome.
As I mentioned above, Stuart Wilson has been previous nominated in this category, including for three Star Wars films (The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi) and most recently winning the Oscar for 1917. His shares the nomination with first time nominees William Files and Douglas Murray as well as Andy Nelson, a 21-time nominee and 2-time winner.
Looking at the franchise history, Batman Forever received nominations for both sound categories in 1995 while The Dark Knight won for Best Sound Editing in 2008. Other nominated superhero movies include Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, Iron Man, Black Panther, Joker, and the only other winner I was able to find, The Incredibles. This doesn’t bode well for this film winning the award, though I have to say that one of the more positive aspects of this film for me was the sound design and editing. I have been famously lukewarm on The Batman as a whole, but absolutely loved the soundscape these creators put together for the film. One other potential knock against it this year is that Nelson is also up for our next film.
Again, a film I haven’t yet had the chance to see, but the latest in a series of Tom Hanks films I will be adding to my watched films in 2023 very soon (after A Man Called Otto and Bachelor Party for my 52-week movie challenge). As noted above, multiple nominee and winner Andy Nelson is among the group of nominees for this film which also includes multiple nominee David Lee (with a win for The Matrix), and first-time nominees Wayne Pashley and Michael Keller.
This film is the outlier in terms of what goes into the sound mix, focusing more on the blend of Elvis’s great music into the overall soundscape, combined with crowds and everything else going on. I’m not sure if that can compete with the big action films in the category, however, you only have to look back two years to see Sound of Metal winning this category for a non-action film, and back in 2018, the musically focused Bohemian Rhapsody won both sound categories over films like the original Black Panther and First Man.
Top Gun: Maverick
Finally, the individuals nominated for Top Gun: Maverick (Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon, and Mark Taylor) don’t have much experience at the Oscars, but do have several nominations and one win for Weingarten’s work on 1917.
The obvious focus of this film has been on the visuals, and the stunning effects and cinematography of the aerial scenes, but the sound deserves some attention as well. There are plenty of times in this film where the sound is brought down and allowed to be quiet, and that makes the louder, more frantic moments even more impactful. Unfortunately, I don’t think this group will win the award, but it could some as a surprise spoiler.
Today is my first look at individual categories and which films and creators are nominated in each category as we lead up to the 95th Academy Awards on March 12th. This category is filled with films that are either sequels, reboots, or flat out remakes of previous films.
All Quiet on the Western Front
I just finished watching this film on Netflix last night and boy was that a tough one to watch. The film felt like a blending of 1917 (which won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects three years ago) and Saving Private Ryan (which did was not even nominated). The opening battle, though much shorter than the storming of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan was just as brutal visually and the connection to 1917 goes without saying as they cover the same conflict (WWI) though from different sides. The biggest argument in favor of this film winning the award this year would be that I rarely thought to myself “that’s a great effect” while I watched. The visual effects are embedded in the action and everything looks real, from the soldiers being shot, to the explosions that deliver realistically devastating effects to everything around them. All four names called out for their work on this film (Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank, and Kamil Jafar) are first time nominees in this category and in my quick review of previous winners in this category, I could not find any that were also nominated in the Best International Feature/Best Foreign Language Film.
Avatar: The Way of Water
How could this film NOT be nominated for Best Visual Effects? Unfortunately, it is the only film in this category that I haven’t seen yet (to be rectified soon) but from everything I’ve heard, the visuals in the film are what make it worth seeing and everyone I’ve spoken to about it recommends seeing it on the biggest screen and in 3D if possible. Looking back in time, the original Avatar film won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects at the 82nd Academy Awards, but was only competing against two other films in the category at the time (District 9 and the J. J. Abrams Star Trek reboot). It has been widely publicized that the development of new visual effects methods to shoot performance capture in underwater environments was a contributing factor to the film to be delayed as long as it was. That can’t go unnoticed in selecting the winner in this category, giving the film a very strong chance to take home the Oscar yet again. To top it off, two of the individuals called out for the nomination this year (Joe Letteri and Richard Baneham) were also part of the team that won for Avatar. Letteri has also taken home statuettes for King Kong, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King along with six additional nominations.
This is only the second Batman film to be officially nominated in the Best Visual Effects category, going all the way back to the original Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman in 1989. Batman Returns was a nominee in 1992, losing out to Death Becomes Her, and multiple Batman films have been shortlisted including Batman Forever in 1995, Batman & Robin in 1997, and Batman Begins in 2005. All four of the individuals named for this film, Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands, and Dominic Tuohy, have been nominated for Oscars in this category in the past with wins for Lemmon (for The Jungle Book in 2017) and Tuohy (for 1917 in 2019). Unfortunately for this group, their history doesn’t bode well for taking home the trophy this year, especially with other strong contenders.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The first Black Panther film was not nominated for Best Visual Effects, though it was shortlisted prior to the final five nominees. You would also think that Marvel films would have taken home this category several times, given the sheer number of films in that series over the last two decades, but the only Marvel film to win in this category to date is Spider-Man 2 way back in 2004. Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White, and Dan Sudick are the names on the nomination for this film with Hammack receiving one previous nomination (for Deepwater Horizon) and White receiving two prior nominations (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). Sudick’s name has been attached to 12 previous nominations, mostly for Marvel films like all three Iron Man films, Marvel’s The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and he was a double nominee last year for the Ryan Reynolds film Free Guy and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Top Gun: Maverick
The final film in this category is one that might spoil the party for Avatar: The Way of Water. Looking back through the history of the category, the original Top Gun was neither nominated nor shortlisted. The film was generally recognized for sound production (more about that tomorrow) and for the music across many award circuits including at the 59th Academy Awards. Out of the four names attached to this nomination, Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson, and Scott R. Fisher, only Fisher has been nominated previously. He also brings two wins to the table for work on two Christopher Nolan films, Tenet in 2020 and Interstellar in 2014. The reason this film has a chance to upset at the Oscars this year is that it was also innovating how to shoot in a very unforgiving environment, flying in fighter jets. The short video below goes into some of the new technology that was used for this film and it’s truly amazing to think of what they were able to accomplish practically in camera and then enhance with visual effects.
Before getting into the individual categories this week, I want to take a moment to highlight the special awards that will be recognized at this year's Oscar's ceremony. The Governors Awards were held in November of last year and recognized several individuals. You may see their faces during the Awards ceremony in March, but here you can see the speeches they gave upon receiving their awards last year.
Three honorary awards were given out at the Governors Awards in November to the following individuals.
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is awarded periodically by the Academy at the Governors Awards ceremonies for an individual's "outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes". It is named after the Danish American actor Jean Hersholt and has been presented to individuals including Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyler Perry. This year’s recipient was actor Michael J. Fox in recognition of his contributions to the fight against Parkinson’s disease. His speech from the Governor’s Awards Banquet can be found below.
It’s Oscar nomination day and in case you weren’t up early this morning to watch the nominations as they were announced live, here is the entire list of nominees for this year’s 95th Academy Awards. Throughout the weeks leading up to the awards show, I will be posting every weekday with a preview of an individual category and then posting full profiles of the 10 Best Picture nominees in the last two weeks leading up to the awards. Click on the category names below for those write-ups as they are posted.
Full Alphabetical List of Nominated Films
To summarize, here is a list of all the nominated films for this year. I have included links to purchase DVD/Blu Ray, digital purchase/rental, and online streaming where available. Purchase links are affiliate links as noted in the disclosure at the top of the page and help support The Oscar Project.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?